China Beat Archive



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November 5, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright November 5, 2009. Used by permission.


A few of the stories related to art that have caught our eye recently:

1. The big story in Chinese art this week was the unveiling of a new Mao statue in Changsha (thanks to Shanghaiist for that link), which depicts the future Great Helmsman as a 32-year-old. The Mount Rushmore-esque monolith shows Mao as a romantic young revolutionary, gazing resolutely into the distance as his unusually long hair blows in the wind. Although one member of the design team said that they “were particularly concerned with differentiating it from past images,” the statue evokes the feel of “Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan,” the famous 1968 propaganda poster. Reaction to the new statue has been divided, but generally seems to fall on the negative end of the spectrum: some Chinese bloggers have compared it to the Sphinx, Malcolm Moore of the Telegraph reports that one of his colleagues said that “it looks more like Lord Byron than Mao,” and a commenter on the China Daily BBS remarked on the statue’s resemblance to Beethoven. Danwei translates part of a Chinese newspaper article about the design and construction process, and also has a large photo of the statue . . . so you can decide for yourself whether or not it really looks like Mao.

2. Our Southern California readers might be interested in checking out an exhibit at Pasadena’s Pacific Art Museum, which features artwork that combines Chinese calligraphy and American street graffiti under the title “Across the Divide.” This “calligraffiti” challenges viewers’ assumptions about the nature of “high culture” and “street art,” explains the exhibit’s curator:

The exhibit features a variety of pieces that focus on the essential idea of writing within art, exploring the similarities between traditional Chinese calligraphy and graffiti. The Museum brought together several prominent modern Chinese and Latino artists who collaborated on the show’s hallmark pieces.